DUMBO — The city plans to turn part of Jay Street near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway into a two-way street — worrying local leaders who say the move could endanger cyclists.
The Department of Transportation has a plan to allow traffic in both directions on Jay Street between York and Prospect streets, in order to let cars get onto the Brooklyn Queens Expressway more easily, according to a proposal presented to Community Board 2’s transportation committee Tuesday night.
The DOT says opening the street to two-way traffic would allow drivers going south on Jay Street to avoid an unnecessary right turn onto York Street.
The new street design would allow drivers going south to get straight onto the BQE from Jay Street.
“We’re trying to cut out excess vehicular miles traveled,” the DOT’s Dan Wagner said at Tuesday’s meeting.
But under the DOT’s plan, which is a revision of a proposal that was initially presented to CB2 last year, a 5-foot dedicated bike lane would be removed.
Instead, the west side of the street would feature a combined shared lane for both parking and southbound car and bike traffic. The east side of the street would feature a shared lane for northbound car and bike traffic.
A shared lane means that there is no solid white line separating the bike lane from the car lane. Instead, a bicycle symbol is painted on the road that reminds drivers that the lane must be shared with cyclists.
Community board members voiced concerns about removing a dedicated bike lane and adding shared lanes, known as sharrows, saying it would would endanger cyclists.
“It seems like a step backwards,” said CB 2 member Hilda Cohen.
Cohen proposed adding a dedicated bike lane at least to the west side of the street, which goes uphill, making it more difficult to bike on.
The DOT said it would discuss adding a dedicated bike lane on the west side of the street, but it would have to look into how adding the bike lane would affect available parking spots.
If the plan were revised, a new design would also have to accommodate for the bus lane on the east side of the street, which the MTA says is non-negotiable due to its proximity to the York Street F stop, the DOT said.
The DOT’s proposal also includes adding a sharrow, or a lane marked with bike-friendly icons, southbound on Jay Street, between John and York streets. Currently, there is only a sharrow on the northbound side of the block.
The new street design was endorsed by the DUMBO Business Improvement District.
“People do use it as a two-way bike lane no matter what,” said Christ Martin, Director of Operations and Community Development at the DUMBO BID. “Anything that gives bikes access to this as a two-way would be good.”
The transportation committee voted to accept the DOT’s proposal with the condition that it prioritize bike traffic between Prospect and York streets, and that the agency present the plan with local community groups.